As someone who is dealing with infertility in a day and age where information is at your fingertips, I have to say I’m really lucky. I’ve met so many other women over the internet who have struggled with the same things I have — some of them with journeys so similar it’s scary — and it has brought me a lot of hope and a sense of belonging I haven’t really felt comfortable being vulnerable enough to seek out in real life outside of a couple women I knew were struggling before my own infertility journey started.
One of the biggest places I have found support and a community of women who truly understand is the Glow app, which has been a lifeline for me at times when I know I can’t go to my friends or family members and hear “It will happen, just relax” or “What is meant to be will be” or, the worst, “Do you just want my kid?” (the least funny thing ever) one more goddamned time.
And to their credit, they all mean well. There is just nothing you can really say, and I understand that is a struggle. I am the queen of making insensitive jokes in an effort to lighten the mood even with people I’m closest to and when I know it’s not the time, but that shit slips out anyway and, in fact, did just the other night after we found out Josh’s granddad died. I don’t remember what I said to Josh but it was slightly too far and goes to show even I, the martyr who is throwing my loved ones under the bus right now, am not immune to the occasional (OK, probably more than occasional) foot-in-mouth episode.
Glow has been a safe haven for me because it has shown me the sheer number of other women who not only struggle with what I’m struggling with, but have it way worse — which is something that really puts my journey in perspective and makes me thankful for what I do have. There are women who have been trying to have a child for a decade, women who can’t afford fertility treatments or adoption. Women who have had miscarriage after miscarriage or who have lost their babies right after birth, and I just cannot imagine.
But I have also met quite a few women who have been on the edge of a treatment cycle, just like me. And every single time, these women go on to have babies — during the cycle I meet them. All of them except me. Every time, we message each other constantly throughout our cycles and it goes something like this:
Me: “Hey, how are you? What are your numbers looking like?”
Future Pregnant Chick: “Great! My numbers are XYZ, but I’m not expecting much!”
Me: “Oh same and me either lol I am hoping for the best though!”
Back and forth, updating each other on appointments and hormone shots and comparing levels and random other shit until one day in the near future…
Previously Future Now Currently Pregnant Chick: “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE IT, I SEE A FAINT LINE — RIGHT, I’M NOT CRAZY!?”
Sad me pretending to be excited and simultaneously feeling guilty for having to pretend at all: “GIRL YES HOLY SHIT I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU CONGRATS!”
This has happened to me at least five times now, to the point where I’ve started secretly dubbing myself the Good Luck Chuck of Fertility. I don’t know if you’ve seen that movie with Dane Cook, but if you haven’t, don’t. I haven’t even seen it because why would I, but I know the premise and it’s basically like…girls have sex with him (? Ew) and then find their true love, who is not him. So that’s me. I somehow have sex with these women’s hope and then they have a baby, and I’m left still babyless.
And that all sounds so shitty, I know. Originally, I was in it for the support, and I’m very thankful I have found that. In fact, I have made one really true friend whose baby girl is six months old today, who was due around the same time as me when I got pregnant last year, and she is always checking in on me and is the most wonderful person. But for the most part, the people disappear.
And that’s one side you don’t hear about much, even if you’re aboard the infertility train: That even the women who are struggling, most of them will eventually move on with their lives too. Which is 100% how it should be, but it just wasn’t a side effect I was expecting, I guess. The extra large hole that is left when the women who “get it” eventually migrate to join the group of people who are moms is…almost a worse feeling than before.
But deep down, I know this vulnerability is going to help me be a better mother or, at the very least, a better person. It has to, right? And to be honest, I know I will eventually able to be happy with just the latter.